Besides hay, most farmyard raised livestock cattle, sheep and
hogs required grain to meet their enegy requirements. The grain
seeds, usually barley, oats or wheat was mechanically ground to
make it more readily digestible to the animals. The machine used
to grind the grain was called a grinder. It consited of
corrugated rotating metal plates that quickly broke down the
grain kernels into a powdery substance commonly called chop.
The grinder was located in a small granary known as
the chop bin. Power for the operation was supplied by a tractor
equipped with a belt
pulley. The power was delivered from the
tractor's pulley to the grinder by a long flat belt that passed
through a small opening in the wall of the chop bin. Alfred and
Herman were handling the grain and piling the freshly ground
chop. Aloys' job was to keep the temperamental old tractor
running. Its fuel pump had ceased to work some years previous
and it needed a constant supply of gasoline added to its
When the last of the grain had passed through
the chopper Alfred & Herman signalled for Aloys to shut off
the tractor. Aloys, who was not familiar with the tractor,
quickly pulled a lever. The tractor bolted backwards. He had
inadvertently pulled the hand clutch which resulted in a
backward motion since the tractor had been left in reverse gear.
The tractor pulled the belt very tight causing the grinder to
come loose from its mountings and smash through the wall of the
chop bin. Fortunately there was no damage to the sturdily built
chopper. So after a few hours work on the chop bin wall
everything was good as new!
The above photo was taken on another chop grinding day.
Pictured L. to R. are: Joseph Gerwing Sr., Alfred Gerwing, and